Elegy for the Blue Room

It resonated with me when John Holbo wrote recently: “Remember when there were blogs? Ah, those were the good old days.”

It gestured back to a day when the internet was built mostly out of individuals putting together things which they cared about and sharing them on a server somewhere in the world. The internet was the magic maze which let everybody else wander around and marvel at the wonders.

I put my personal webpage together in late 1998. The worldwide web had existed for about eight years, but it was still early days— back in the last century and before many of my students were even born.

S. John Ross had launched his website, the Blue Room, just a little bit before I launched mine. So, in my head, it’s something that has always been there. He had articles about gaming and role-playing, crosswords and word searches, random stuff about the city he lived in, a great recipe for General Tso’s Chicken, and what at the time was the definitive guide to baking sourdough bread.

His site was an inspiration for the way I built my site. It was a scattershot of fascinating things without any coherent unity beyond being things he found cool. Similarly, I posted things I found interesting without any overarching brand or mission. That willingness to post anything cool led, indirectly, to me (later) releasing a logic book under an open license and (later still) releasing the Decktet. Both of these ended up among the projects I’m most proud of ever.

S. John had a news box on his web page, and I did too. This was back before “blog” was even a word, so even before Holbo’s good old days.

S. John made quick and dirty truetype fonts. And that inspired me to make fonts, too.

Now he is shuttering the Blue Room and cutting all the links. He has a blog now, and he’s reposting some of the comments there. He’s self-published game books and and fonts for years under the Cumberland Games imprint, and most of those continue to be available at DriveThruRPG.

Remember when there were personal webpages? Those were good days, and the Blue Room was one of the best.

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